The Bonnyrigg Sports Club acknowledges that a significant number of Serbian people have made momentous contribution during both World Wars, opposing the Allies and the Commonwealth to ensure the safety of their people.Many of our founding members are soldiers of the Former Republic of Yugoslavia (now known as Serbia) and Chetniks who had supported the armed forces of the Commonwealth and USA by engaging in theatres of conflict during World War II against NAZI Germany and the Axis Forces.
These founding members, have made significant contribution in the assistance of the construction of churches, clubs and other valuable monuments.In turn, these members are highly valued within the Australian Community. Bonnyrigg Sports Club will be eternally grateful to those brave men whom have fought, and in turn risked their lives, to defend today’s freedom and way of life.
The World Wars
World War I, 1914
Both Australia and Serbia were members of the Allied Nations. Serbia from 28 July 1914, and Australia (as part of the British Empire) from 4 August 1914.
The Serbian campaign was fought from August 1914, when Austria -Hungary invaded Serbia at the outset of the First World War, until the end of the war in 1918.
By the end of July 1916, approximately 130,000 Serbs joined the Allied Forces in Salonika, or as it was known the Balkan front. The Serbian and Allied forces took up their positions and stayed there for almost two years before proceeding on to final victory.
Serbia had mobilised over 700,000 for the war, which represented 20% of the entire population. 40% of its males had made an important effort in the Southern front at Salonika. The Kingdom of Serbia lost 1,100,000 inhabitants during the war (both army and civilian losses), which represented 27% of its overall population, while material damage was almost impossible to determine.  Vukašin Antić & Žarko Vuković, “Australian medical mission with the Serbian Army at the Salonika front”, Vojnosanitetski Pregled, Volume 65, Issue 2, February 2008, pp. 179-183.
World War II
Both Australia and Yugoslavia were members of the Allied Nations. Australia from 3 September 1939 and Yugoslavia from 6 April 1941.
In particular, many founding ex-service men of the Club had the greatest honour that an Australian Serb may have.These ex-service men served under the legendary figure of World War II- General Dragoljub ‘Draza’ Mihailovich, who in 1941 lead a guerrilla resistance movement in the former Kingdom of Yugoslavia (now Serbia) against the Nazi German occupiers.
During the latter part of World War II, General Mihailovich and his forces, known as the Chetniks succeeded in rescuing over 500 American, British and French airmen who were brought down by gun fire in Nazi occupied Serbia.
The most intense bombings took place between April and August 1944. Over 5000 Allied war planes participated. Many of the Allied planes that were attacked and damaged while flying over Ploesti Romania managed to sustain their aircraft in the air until they reached the territory of Serbia.
They were forced to abandon their damaged planes and parachute to the ground in Nazi occupied territory. The families of the forces were left in the dark about the whereabouts and safety of their loved ones. Once on the ground, many of them wounded, they kept moving through the mountains, hills, forests and plains of Serbia, not knowing what the next day or night would bring and if they would survive.
It was in these Serbian lands that the downed airmen were found by the Serbian peasants, American allies of more than 120 years. This would be the blessing that the airmen desperately needed, for these Serbs would give them all the protection, support, and sustenance they would need to survive. None of these airmen would ever be captured by the Nazis.
The Serbs were determined, even at high cost to themselves, to keep the American and other Allied airmen safe until they could be evacuated to safety. Eventually, all of them were placed under the protection of the Serbian Royalist Army (Chetniks) under the command of General Dragoljub Draza Mihailovich.
The ‘Halyard Mission’ was the name given to the greatest rescue of American and Allied lives from behind enemy lines in the history of warfare.
The Chetniks valued the lives of American airmen more than their own lives. Often the Chetniks and Serbian people went hungry to feed the American airmen without surrender.
At least on one occasion a whole Serbian village was destroyed and its inhabitants killed as a reprisal for refusing to hand over downed Allied airmen.
In 1948, U.S. President Harry Truman issued General Draza with the American Legion of Merit, the highest honour that can be given to a foreign national
Conclusion of World War II
At the conclusion of World War II on the then territory of Yugoslavia, tens of thousands of Serbians left their native homeland to escape the Communist Dictatorship of Josip Broz Tito.
Thousands of wartime Chetniks and other military units of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia including many civilians, commenced the withdrawal through Slovenia and in May of 1945, handed over their weaponry to Allied Forces at Palmanova in Italy.
These political immigrants would soon feel the spiritual and cultural loss of their homeland and relatively quickly started to meet and made plans to build a community around the Serbian Church and clubs of the time.
First Signs of Rejuvenation
The first Serbian Orthodox Church Community in Australia was at St Sava, Mona Vale and within fifteen years, some nineteen Parishes would be established in Australia, of which many were members of several wartime groups like the Dinaric Chetnik Division.
Around 1954 several discussions took place between former wartime comrades of the Dinaric Chetnik Division, including Duke Momcilo Djujic and by the 18th April 1954 at St Sava’s Church Hall Mona Vale, the Movement of Serbian Chetniks ”Ravna Gora” (MSCRG) in Australia was established. As its first President, Nikola Dobric was elected and it’s first Secretary was Danilo Cukic.
Many Serbian organisations like The Serbian National Defence, Serbian Cultural Club, Association of Veterans of the Yugoslav Army and MSCRG were mostly created by wartime groups which were created along political and regional grounds, all however were fiercely anti-communist.
Early life of Bonnyrigg Sports Club
Around 1965, a search for a parcel of land was finally realised when in May of 1966, seven acres at Bonnyrigg was purchased for 4500 pounds, where today stands the Serbian Centre/Bonnyrigg Sports Club.
The Bonnyrigg Sports Club would also like to acknowledge and thank the Vukmirica family and in particular Simo and the late Lazar for all their support in the early land acquisition process and establishment of the Club premises.
Within several years, plans had been prepared to accommodate a soccer field and several plans would be prepared to build a new Club. The majority of the construction work would be done between 1979 and 1985. The volunteer workforce and significant number of donations contributed to the realisation of this “Serbian House.”
In 1986 the Serbian Soccer Club “Avala White Eagles” (formed in 1968) would become a permanent fixture of the Bonnyrigg land and their clubhouse and stadium was built between 1992 – 1996.
An additional parcel of land (3 acres) on the western boundary was purchased in 2001.
By 2003 plans were again being considered to renovate and extend parts of the Serbian Centre. Internal works and additions, including outside redesign would be undertaken.
The newly renovated Club was re-opened on 1st October 2005, trading as the Bonnyrigg Sports Club.
In 2009, the Bonnyrigg Sports Club announced that it is looking at other key strategies to expand the services and operations of the premises to meet the growing needs of its members.